Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Factor-Pickens: Collectively Improving GUSA and Student Life

Georgetown is a special place because its students do great things. Georgetown students have vast potential, and there is nothing they cannot overcome by working together.

That’s where GUSA should come in; GUSA should be the vehicle for improving student life and the voice of students. Going door-to-door during this campaign period, we came to the sad realization that many students are either apathetic or under-informed when it comes to GUSA. All too often we heard: “What is GUSA? Do they do anything? What does GUSA even stand for?” GUSA has done a lot during the past two years, but to realize its potential, more students need to get involved. We have opportunities to reform club funding, greater funding options for student space and a chance for student government to stick up for students’ rights in the disciplinary process. Our ticket stands confident that with a leadership philosophy of inspiring broad and active student participation, as well as taking concrete steps toward student advocacy, we can overcome these challenges while breaking down any walls that exist between students and their student government.

The Georgetown community has already seen evidence of one challenge: SAC is broken. This week, club leaders sent a letter requesting that SAC consult students before making broad changes behind-the-scenes. SAC’s response was to call the entire student body “irresponsible.” Our ticket is the only one that proposes bold, achievable steps to fix club funding.

We want to make SAC commissioners elected officials and increase their number. With democracy, we can elect SAC commissioners who are on the side of students and club leaders; SAC will become transparent and comprehensive club funding reform will become a reality. Currently, each SAC commissioner manages the funding requests of eight different clubs, all with different characteristics and needs from SAC. With more commissioners, every club will get the help from SAC it deserves; clubs will be able to order T-shirts and hold guest speaking events without fighting tooth-and-nail with an inefficient bureaucracy. We are the ticket that will end the nightmare that is the SAC process. It’s time we stood up and took stewardship over the Student Activities Fee that we all contribute to.

Apart from club funding, our money should go toward better student space. We have already contacted hall directors and developed concrete new ideas for improving student space. As GUSA executives, we will be able to put students in charge of renovating the LXR seminar rooms, the Village A community room and adding work-out facilities to Riverside Lounge.

We also have the biggest focus on service. We plan to create the Utraque Unum Fund, a community service fund administered and supported by students and Jesuits. A student government executive that firmly embodies Georgetown’s commitment to service can only make for a stronger student body and a more transparent GUSA. We steadfastly believe in this commitment, and have already pledged to use our GUSA stipends to bolster this fund.

Going door-to-door, we also consistently heard from students about distinct disadvantages in dealings with the university. By creating a Student Advocacy Office, we will position GUSA to stick up for students’ rights, a concrete step in closing the information gap between students and administrators. Whether by advocating for students in the disciplinary process, study abroad, financial aid or more student-friendly university policies, GUSA will be more active in freely and confidentially helping students with any conflicts they may encounter. Fair representation is the first step toward any potential Student Code of Conduct reform.

Continuing on the idea of broader student involvement, we want to make sure that there is are no back-room dealings in student government. We don’t want to interact with students only through a website or an online survey; things will happen when GUSA members and students meet and sit down to talk about the issues. With realistic plans for a more open, accessible student government, we will bring more students into the process. GUSA should not be that acronym that students vote for every year, but which no one really hears from afterwards. We will have daily office hours in Red Square, so that if anyone has a problem, a concern, or an idea that they would like to see action on, they can come meet with us face-to-face. We will also keep students up to date with weekly Facebook videos detailing what GUSA has done for students each week.

By getting GUSA involved with students on a direct level, GUSA will be the first outlet for students’ issues, concerns and ideas. Facing barriers to club funding, a lack of student space, tense neighbor relations, an unfair disciplinary process and untapped capabilities for service, our ticket proposes bold, achievable steps: Elect SAC commissioners; improve existing student space; engage positively with the neighbors with coffee-hours and neighborhood clean-ups; create a Student Advocacy Office. Through these steps, we hope to make GUSA a real and effective voice for students.

Ace Factor is a junior in the College and is running for GUSA president. James Pickens is also a junior in the College and is running for GUSA vice president.

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